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Owl Tracksters Head to NCAA Championship

KEENE, N.H., 5/25/10 - The defending national champion in the hammer throw event, junior Bryan Kolacz (Brentwood, N.H.) sums up the approach that he and his Keene State teammates will take at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships that begin Thursday at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.

“I’m not going out there thinking anything less than No. 1,” he said. “I’m going to throw my farthest and wherever it lands, that’s the best I can do that day. I’m only concerned with my performance. I can’t worry about what everybody else is doing.”

Competing in the javelin, senior Dan Colina (Rochester, N.H.) and freshman Glenn Guilmette (Kensington, N.H.) - along with senior Peter Najem (Derry, N.H.), who will double in the 800- and 1,500-meter races - have the same philosophy as they prepare for the national meet at George Finn Stadium.

The fields in most events are unusually strong for this year’s NCAA Championship. Kolacz, who won his hammer title with a throw of 201’8” last year, is currently seeded seventh with a mark of 190’3”. Eric Flores, a junior from California Lutheran, has the top qualifying mark with an NCAA Division III record throw of 220’10”.

“It’s going to take something stupendous for Bryan to repeat,” said KSC throwing coach John Napolitano. “If Bryan throws as well as he can, I know he’s going to be happy.”

Guilmette and Colina, who are ranked seventh (206’8”) and 11th (203’), respectively, in the javelin field, also will need exceptional throws if they hope to earn All-America honors.

“It’s been a ridiculous year for the javelin,” said Napolitano about the strong list of competitors that includes defending champion Brock Solveson (208’5”), a senior from Concordia (Wisc.) University.

After a strong start, Guilmette struggled late in the season. “I don’t want to think about the past,” said an excited Guilmette, who will be making his first trip to a national meet. “I just want to throw well and hopefully make a name for myself out there.”

Unlike last year when he was injured and failed to reach the finals, Colina says he is strong and confident as he gets set for the championship. “Early in the season, I was trying to throw far and put a lot of pressure on myself,” said Colina, a former junior college All-American when he attended Allen County Community College in Kansas. “It’s my last year of college eligibility, so I’m looking for the No. 1 spot and nothing else.”

The hammer and javelin competition will take place on Thursday.

The lone Owl runner at the meet, Najem will be looking to become the first KSC men’s athlete to successfully double at an outdoor championship since Scott Hatch finished fourth in the 10K and sixth in the 5K at the 1988 championships.

Najem is one of three runners to post an automatic qualifying time (1:50.79) in the 800 and is seeded eighth in the 1,500 field. “The 800 is Peter’s event, but he’s beaten a lot of the runners in the 1,500, so we decided to go for it,” said KSC coach Peter Thomas.

“I feel good and sharp,” said Najem, who will run the 1,500 prelims on Thursday and the 800 prelims on Friday. The finals for both events will take place on Saturday, with an hour in between races.

“I definitely have my work cut out for me, but I’m ready for it,” said Najem, who came up short in his bid to reach the 800 finals last year. “I want to end my college career on a high note.”

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